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"The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is The Lack Of Fear Itself"





With NYSE margin debt at extremes once again, complacency at all-time highs, valuations (across equity and credit) frothy, and the cacophony of bullish consensus momentum chasers, it seems the anti-thesis of FDR's speech appears quite appropriate...

 
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David Rosenberg: "When They Say Unemployment Rate, They Mean The S&P 500"





Last week's plunge in wholesale sales (and "completely involuntary" surge in inventories) has Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg greatly concerned that current quarter real GDP will be very close to stall speed. However, as he notes, "either Mr. Market has yet to figure this out or simply doesn't care any more because of the well ingrained belief that the 'Fed has my back'." When even the Fed is pimping stocks as cheap, he explains, you know what is dominating the thought process of the central bank's targeting - "they say unemployment rate, but they really mean the S&P 500." The 'wealth effect', however, only benefits a chosen few and as Rosie illustrates, an historically low 52% of American households have any money invested in the stock market (based on a recent Gallup poll) - which merely spurs the 'bulls' to argue that the Fed has to be more aggressive...

 
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The Hilsenrath "Tapering" Article Is Out





Yesterday, the rumor turned out to be a joke. Today, there was no rumor, but as we warned four hours ago, it was only a matter of time. Less than four hours later, the time has come, and Jon Hilsenrath's "Fed Maps Exit from Stimulus", conveniently appearing after the close, has just been released.

 
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No Volume, No Problem





Presented with no comment...

 
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Guest Post: Is Present Monetary Policy Rational?





While the stance of monetary policy around the world has, on any conceivable measure, been extreme, the question of whether such a policy is indeed sensible and rational has not been asked much of late. By rational we simply mean the following: Is this policy likely to deliver what it is supposed to deliver? And if it does fall short of its official aim, then can we at least state with some certainty that whatever it delivers in benefits is not outweighed by its costs? We think that these are straightforward questions and that any policy that is advertised as being in ‘the interest of the general public’ should pass this test. As we will argue in the following, the present stance of monetary policy only has a negligible chance, at best, of ever fulfilling its stated aim. Furthermore, its benefits are almost certainly outweighed by its costs if we list all negative effects of this policy and do not confine ourselves, as the present mainstream does, to just one obvious cost: official consumer price inflation, which thus far remains contained. Thus, in our view, there is no escaping the fact that this policy is not rational. It should be abandoned as soon as possible. This will end badly...

 
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Chinese Consumers Rapidly Shift From Luxury To Thrift





It was a decent run but all good things come to an end. We know China's growth is fading (even by their own official data) but below the surface data suggests things are a lot worse. Between this drop in growth and the rise in anti-corruption practices (that we discussed here) the imports of Swiss-made luxury watches has tubmled 24% in Q1 for the third quarter in a row of declines. "The corruption crackdown campaign is having a big effect on luxury watch sales, high-end watches are very common gifts and they are items that are quite conspicuous and associated as a sign of corruption." This follows the firing of Communist Party official Yang "Brother Watch" Dacai who posted images of himself wearing 11 luxury watches at different times. Two major luxury watch retailers are significantly underperforming while Swatch is improving as Hong Kong (the world's biggest importer of watches) slows dramatically. But have no fear, we are sure it will be a smooth transition.

 
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Argentina's Modest Proposal: Buy Bonds Or Go To Jail





Argentina's president Kirchner, a keen observer of recent events in Cyprus, has figured out a way to kill two birds with one stone, namely attempt to put an end to tax evasion, and fund the capex of the recently nationalized state oil company YPF (now that its former owner, Spainish Repsol, is less than keen to keep investing in its former Argentine subsidiary). To do that she will present the local tax-evading population (pretty much anyone with any disposable income and savings) with a simple choice: buy a 4% bond to fund YPF "growth" or go to prison.

 
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Now It's Britain's Turn To Choose





If England does not wake up and recognize what is happening then it will be Neville Chamberlin all over again. Appeasement is never a good answer and today no war is threatened just financial domination. Over time, if Britain remains in the European Union, they will get pushed down into the mud, lose their ability to govern themselves, watch as their financial institutions get trampled by Frankfurt. The Germans will force them into a space presently occupied by Greece, Slovenia and Cyprus. Retribution for two World Wars will finally be won in Berlin.

 
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Visualizing The Shrinking Dollar





The almighty dollar is looking less mighty these days. By almost every measure, the purchasing power of the US dollar is in precipitous decline.

 
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Guest Post: The New European Revolt





It is a fair bet that one way or another, the current generation of young people will be unwilling and/or unable to pay for Social Security and Medicare as they presently stand. Of course, Western Europe has the same problem and President Hollande of France recently got a whiff of what is coming from an open letter addressed to him by a 20-year old student named Clara G... "I want to go to a country where there is growth, where wages are rising, where being rich is not a deadly sin, a country in short where the individual and the society have confidence that tomorrow will be brighter than today." Developed nations with deteriorating demographics will have a big problem if large taxpayers decided to move away to lower tax jurisdictions. Clara’s letter suggests that an exodus by the young would be just as damaging, indeed probably more damaging.

 
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How To Manufacture A Record High Stock Market Close On A Friday Afternoon





Presented with little comment aside to note, amid a quiet day with non-equity markets showing extremely volatile movements, it was decided by a great majority that (following 90 minutes of momentum ignition efforts) all protection should be lifted and VIX was smashed to its lowest level in a month...

 
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QE Qaption Qontest





If the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world asset bubbles don't exit, the next question is who is QE Soze?

 
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Guest Post: The Obama Administration's Natural Gas Policy Is Tragically Misguided





The Obama administration has come out in support of the idea of exporting U.S. natural gas. This stance is counterproductive and shortsighted, and if followed, it will prove harmful to domestic manufacturing (i.e., value generation) and to future generations of Americans. While exporting natural gas would certainly prove to be an economic boon for a very select minority of companies and individuals, it makes no sense from an energy standpoint and undermines our national interests. All it will do is enrich a few while boosting prices for all domestic consumers and shortchanging the energy and environmental inheritance we pass along to our children. The time has come to give greater weighting to energy matters than to economic and political desires. To continue to be energetically wasteful at this time in history, when so much data is telling us that the effluent of our activities is measurably altering our support systems, is beyond embarrassing.  It's tragic.

 
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Marc Faber: "Something Will Break Very Badly"





During an interview with The Globe and Mail, 'Gloom, Boom, and Doom's Marc Faber unleashed some awful truthiness about gold "I buy gold every month", real estate "bubble territory", and the likelihood of a crash in smoke-and-mirrors-like asset markets - "In the 40 years I’ve been working as an economist and investor, I have never seen such a disconnect between the asset market and the economic reality... Asset markets are in the sky and the economy of the ordinary people is in the dumps, where their real incomes adjusted for inflation are going down and asset markets are going up... Something will break very bad."

 
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Friday Humor: Overcompensating In China





China may or may not be building empty cities any more, but when it comes to the buildings it does, ahem, erect, it appears that the communist regime is either running out of ideas or is taking the symbolism of the skyscraper just a little too seriously. Behold the building that will house the new Beijing offices of the People's Daily, the official paper of the China Communist Party...

 
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